Ugi Khishignyam and Odie Delaney walked off the mats on Friday as All-Americans, a feat that only one previous Citadel wrestler has accomplished in the school's history as day two comes to a close at the 2013 NCAA Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ugi guaranteed himself a spot on the 2013 All-America team on Friday morning when he topped third-seeded Mike Mangrum in a thrilling overtime battle in the quarterfinals, while Delaney collected three hard-fought wins in the consolation bracket to earn the coveted title.
The Bulldog tandem joins Dan Thompson (2006) as the only three All-Americans in Citadel history. The top eight wrestlers in each weight class achieve the status.
"I couldn't be happier for Ugi and Odie," said head coach Rob Hjerling, who is responsible for coaching all three of Citadel's All-Americans. "It's a little hard to put into words, but I know how it important it is for them and it was great to see all of their hard work result in a nice reward."
In the 141-pound quarterfinal, Ugi and Mangrum closed out regulation time knotted at one point apiece. An escape in overtime by Mangrum gave him a 2-1 lead until Ugi managed a takedown with just seven seconds left on the clock to take the 3-2 victory.
The win launched the Bulldog grappler into the semifinal round against undefeated Oklahoma wrestler, Kendric Maple making him the first Bulldog grappler ever to advance to the semifinal round in the NCAA Championship.
Thompson took seventh place in 2006 at 165-pounds. Ugi can finish no worse than sixth in the 141-pound division.
"The first match was a close one and went into overtime, but when I won I was pumped to become an All-American and happy to see Odie get it also," said Ugi.
It took four NCAA Championship competitions, but redshirt senior Delaney fought his way through three tough bouts on Friday to earn the All-American title.
"The coaches have put a lot of hard work into me and I have worked really hard to become an All-American," said Delaney. "It has always been a lifelong dream of mine and to finally achieve it is overwhelming."
After dropping his second round match to defending national champion Anthony Nelson of Minnesota yesterday, Delaney landed himself in a Friday morning bout with American's Blake Herrin.
The redshirt senior bounced right back, earning two escapes, a takedown and a riding time point to top Herrin 5-2.
In his next consolation bout, Delaney was pitted against familiar foe Levi Cooper of Arizona State. Cooper topped the Bulldog grappler 6-2 to open the 2012-13 dual slate, but Delaney earned his revenge at the Southern Scuffle with a 5-1 decision.
In today's match, Delaney managed a third period fall on the Sun Devil grappler to move on to the All-America decider bout against fourth-seeded Chad Hanke of Oregon State.
The Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., product jumped all over Hanke, collecting a pair of takedowns and a three-point nearfall before landing his second consecutive pin at the 4:22 mark to gain the win and secure his All-America title.
Delaney's heroic run came to a halt in the next bout where Pitt's Zach Thomusseit topped the Bulldog grappler by fall. The loss landed Delaney in tomorrow's seventh place bout against Iowa State's Matthew Gibson.
"When I dropped down to the consolations I knew I needed to pin my ears back and take it one match at a time so I just chopped away until I came out on top," added Delaney.
Assistant coach Tucker Lane, who works directly with the heavyweights, was proud to see his athlete earn the honor. Lane wrestled at Nebraska from 2008-12 and fell shy of the award during his last two years.
"This is one of the greatest feelings I have had in the sport," said Lane. "I came up short the last two years in my career and I know after training with Odie how much it meant to him and to see him go out there and wrestle like that was really special."
In fitting fashion, a win in tomorrow's bout would leave Delaney with 125 career wins, tying him for the most wins in program history with Sean Markey (2006).
"I couldn't have wanted something more for someone than wanting him to win that because no one deserves it more than him," said assistant coach Jeff Ragan about Delaney. "There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into that and he earned it."
Matches are slated to begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow and will be televised on ESPNU. Finals bouts will be aired on ESPN at 8 p.m.
"We still have another day and I know Odie wants to finish his career with a win and Ugi wants to get third, but it has been a great weekend for Citadel wrestling," finished Hjerling.